Winds churn California wildfires, keep aircraft from helping

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VENTURA, Calif. (AP) -- The same vicious winds that made three Southern California wildfires so destructive are also making the firefight itself more difficult.

The water-dropping planes and helicopters essential to fighting massive fires have been mostly grounded because it's too dangerous to fly in the strong gusts.

Commanders hoped to have them back in the air on Wednesday morning, but all indications are the winds will be whipping then too.

The blazes brought evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people, destroyed nearly 200 homes and have remained mostly out control.

The largest and most destructive of the blazes, an 85-square-mile wildfire in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, had nearly reached the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday night after starting 30 miles inland a day earlier.